Let’s ACT for Clean Trucks and Clean Air

Colorado’s front range communities, nestled along the beautiful Rocky Mountains, are known for their booming technology sector, unmatched outdoor recreation, and, unfortunately, alarmingly poor air quality. This is in part due to emissions from medium and heavy duty trucks – some of the largest contributors to harmful ozone and climate pollution. To clean up our air and protect our communities, it is imperative that our state’s leaders take action by adopting strong standards under the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule to protect clean air and meet greenhouse emissions reduction goals.

Air pollution threatens public health across Colorado, particularly in communities struggling with poverty and communities of color where people are more likely to live near busy highways. As lead organizer in the Colorado Sierra Club chapter and someone who was raised in Colorado, I have watched the health risks in my Denver community increase dramatically. This past year alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) downgraded the air quality in the front range from “Serious” to “Severe.” The air quality problem in the front range puts millions of people at risk of developing or exacerbating serious health issues, including asthma, which afflicts many of our loved ones, including my wife Laura.

Despite these local pollution impacts, Colorado has failed for over a decade to meet air quality standards and has exceeded the EPA’s health-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone. The state is also not on track to meet its 2030 and 2050 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, in large part due to the transportation sector. Colorado needs action, now.

Through increasing the use of zero-emission alternatives to lower the impacts of medium and heavy duty trucks, the ACT rule is a critical component of Colorado’s strategy to reduce harmful pollutants, meet emissions reduction goals, and support our local economies. 

The ACT rule has a gradual sales requirement to allow zero emissions technology to develop. Its implementation will be supported by substantial federal and state incentives, including the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act. With fuel cost and maintenance savings, alongside health and climate benefits, the rule is projected to generate over $15.6 billion in net savings for Coloradans through 2050. The rule will also drive down upfront and ongoing costs, making it easier for businesses to change their fleets from diesel to clean trucks. When you add all these factors together, the ACT rule is a cost-effective, feasible, and economy-boosting solution for our local communities.

Colorado’s clean technology sector is a critical industry that employs nearly 58,000 people across the state. These economic opportunities will continue to increase under the ACT rule and spur job growth in areas like vehicle assembly, vehicle retrofit, and charging station installation as Colorado electrifies its transportation into the future. The electrification process can also help lower electricity rates for all utility customers, bringing more savings to Colorado families.

I live a little over a mile away from two major highways in Northwest Denver and can see the direct impact a rule like this could have on keeping my family, my neighbors, and my community safe. Every day, hundreds of heavy-duty trucks travel through our community spewing diesel exhaust and other hazardous air toxins. From reducing these toxins to supporting our economy, it is clear that passing the ACT rule will play a central role in securing the health and futures of communities like mine and many more throughout the front range. With the ACT rule, I will breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Colorado leaders are taking steps to keep our air clean.